A man who has served 19 years of a life prison sentence for an attempted murder conviction was ordered released Friday thanks to the efforts of the LMU Loyola Law School’s Project for the Innocent.
“LPI has been investigating this case for nearly six years, and we firmly believe in our client’s innocence,” LPI Program Director Adam Grant said. “In fact, we uncovered substantial evidence pointing toward someone else entirely as the perpetrator.”
Emon Barnes, now 34, was convicted of attempted murder for the shooting of two teenagers 19 years ago. Barnes was just 15 at the time of his arrest, but he was tried as an adult, convicted and sentenced to 40 years to life in prison.
According to the Project for the Innocent, Barnes was convicted of the gang-related shooting based largely on the testimony of a teenage witness who has since recanted his account.
The organization’s investigation of the case stalled earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, which impacted Barnes personally, since he was imprisoned at San Quentin, where a major COVID-19 outbreak occurred. Attorneys said Barnes contracted the virus in prison, but has recovered and now tests negative for COVID.
While the Project for the Innocent’s efforts were delayed by the virus, attorneys reached out to the District Attorney’s Office, which agreed to have Barnes resentenced under new laws that bar the prosecution of 15-year-old defendants in adult court, according to the group. Barnes was resentenced Friday to a reduced term, and is expected to be released next week.
The Project for the Innocent plans to continue working on his behalf, in hopes of having him declared factually innocent of the crime.
“The more we investigated, the more obvious it became that Emon was innocent,” LPI attorney Michael Petersen said. “Emon was not in a gang. He was a quiet kid in a bad neighborhood. The police were simply way off when they set their sights on him.”
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